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How NOT to walk away from an unsuccessful negotiation

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.
Over the next few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

119 Walking away

It is a truism that the one who is willing to walk away from the table, or who actually walks away, has the power. There are four basic ways to walk away from an incomplete negotiation. They are:

1 Anger and slamming of doors

This is the least mature, most unrelational way to walk away from a negotiation. Although anger gives an impression of power in the moment, ending a negotiation in this way is often a sign of weakness, indicating a lack of ability to maintain composure and emotional self-control. And it often leaves a bad impression of you in the mind of the other party. Using this method, you may “win the battle and lose the war.” There may be future consequences. The other party may want nothing to do with you afterward. And if you want to negotiate with them later, you may have to return with your tail between your legs, apologise, and make concessions as amends. Even then, the inappropriateness of your outburst will be “the elephant in the room” everyone is aware of, but which no one mentions. Your walk-away attitude in this way may haunt you as it is likely to be spoken of, in a derisive way by the aggrieved party and is likely to reach into the market place where you ply your trade.

2 The ultimatum or “it’s my way or the highway”

The ultimatum is the next worst way to walk away from a negotiation. It does have the virtue of bringing a negotiation to a sudden and final decision point. But a blatant threat of ending a negotiation if you don’t get your way will likely offend or alienate the other party. However, if you want to cut to the chase, and you don’t care if the other party likes you, hates you, or never wants to do business with you again, you have nothing to lose. On the other hand, someone using the ultimatum strategy with you is probably someone you don’t want to negotiate with in the future. Their ultimatum is telling you that they are only interested in getting what they want and don’t particularly care whether you do or not. An ultimatum is a self-centered attempt to control the negotiation and the outcome to your advantage. Therefore it is not highly recommended.

4 The diplomatic exit: agreeing to disagree

When it appears that further compromise is not possible, and a negotiation cannot succeed for either party, it is wise to end on a diplomatic note. Here you agree to disagree without getting ugly or going to war. By respecting each other’s position and parting on good terms, you leave the door open for future negotiations.

5 Enigmatic departure

Here you part on your terms without a detailed explanation, and without conflict or recrimination. This puts you in the power position. This can be as simple as saying, “Well, I think we’re done here. Have a good day,” in a neutral, unprovocative tone and then simply getting up and leaving the room. This is acceptable when dealing with a disrespectful, antagonistic, or uncooperative person who you realise is not worth negotiating with, either now or later.

If someone ends a negotiation using any of these methods, the best thing to do is to accept it gracefully and respond without ego. This is the high moral ground approach, and it puts you in the power position to the degree that you really are in acceptance.


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